Hitting Record Set Exactly Thirty Years Ago Not Likely To Be Broken In Today's Version Of Baseball
Ray Chapman Was A Prolific Bunter, And It Took 70 Years For Felix Fermin To Tie His Single Game Record
Felix Fermin Should Be Remembered For More Than Just The Trade For Omar Vizquel
Thirty years ago today Jerry Browne, the second baseman of the Cleveland Indians, had quite a day. In the August 22 game back in 1989, Browne was a perfect four for four against the Seattle Mariners, as his Cleveland team beat the Mariners 3-2 in ten innings.
He had twice as many hits as future Hall of Fame outfielder Ken Griffey, Jr., as well as four times as many as All-Star Cleveland teammates Joe Carter and Albert Belle. While that offensive outburst boosted Browne's batting average seven points to .313, his double play partner had an even more remarkable day.
Shortstop Felix Fermin, although he did not get manage even one hit, accomplished a feat that had not been duplicated in exactly seventy years. During the ten innings of that game, Fermin got credited with four sacrifice bunts.
That sum tied a record set by another Cleveland player, Ray Chapman, who dropped four sacrifice bunts in a 1919 game. Two years before that Chapman had employed that tactic successfully 87 times, thereby establishing a single season record that still stands.
Tragically, less than a year after dropping the four bunts in one game, Chapman would become the only player in Major League Baseball to die from an injury on the field. On August 17, 1920, Chapman was hit on the head with a pitch from Carl Mays, suffering a cranial injury from which he died twelve hours later.
In the hundred years since his death, no player has even come close to surpassing Chapman's record of bunts in one season. Fermin, however, on that day exactly thirty years ago tied Chapman's single game record, and those four bunts proved crucial to Cleveland's win that day.
After Browne had led off the ninth with a single, Fermin sacrificed to put the potential game winning run in scoring position. While Browne did not in fact score, because of the Fermin bunt Seattle pitcher Jerry Reed issued an intentional walk to outfielder Dion James.
Due to that intentional pass, Brad Komminsk got to bat in the tenth inning. After reliever Mike Schooler struck out Belle and third baseman Brook Jacoby, Komminsk connected on a walk off home run to give the Indians the 3-2 victory.
Given the poor execution of the bunt in today's game, not to mention the obsession with home runs, Fermin is very likely to be the last player to match Chapman's record of four sacrifices in one game.